US fugitive Nicholas Rossi's twisted final words to family before faking own death

Nicholas Rossi departs Edinburgh Sheriff Court after his US extradition hearing on July 12, 2023
Nicholas Rossi departs Edinburgh Sheriff Court after his US extradition hearing on July 12, 2023 -Credit:Ewan Bootman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Nicholas Rossi went to great lengths to escape the law, including faking his own death and insisting he was an Irish orphan- however, it all came crashing down when nurses and doctors in Glasgow discovered he was living in Scotland under an alias.

The American was wanted in connection to allegations of rape in the state of Utah. Rossi - also known as Nicholas Alahverdian - fought a long, drawn out battle in Scotland since his arrest in December 2021, when he was in hospital receiving treatment for covid.

Despite his best efforts, he was extradited to the US in January this year.

The 36-year-old argued that he was the victim of mistaken identity and famously appeared in court in a wheelchair, using an oxygen mask and speaking in a British accent, reports the Mirror.

Now, a new Channel 4 documentary Imposter: The Man Who Came Back from the Dead, has revealed more details surrounding his case and the extreme lengths he went to escape his trial.

Judge Norman McFadyen, of Edinburgh Sheriff Court, had previously dismissed the fugitive's claims of mistaken identity as "implausible" and "fanciful", after the man said he had been framed by authorities who tattooed him and surreptitiously took his fingerprints while he was in a coma so they could connect him to Rossi.

Rossi is in fact just one of several aliases the 36-year-old has used since 2008, after he was found guilty of sexual imposition and public indecency while a student at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio.

He is alleged to have attacked a former girlfriend. The Utah County prosecutor's office said it found complaints alleging Alahverdian abused and threatened women in other states.

Registered sex offender Rossi fled to the UK in 2017, moved to Glasgow and later met his wife Miranda Knight in 2020.

In February 2020 - a week after they were married in Bristol - he set up an elaborate online hoax, where he claimed he'd died of cancer in his home state of Rhode Island.

His last words were reportedly: "Fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun." It was alleged that he died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma - a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. But the authorities later revealed that the story was fake and that Rossi never had cancer.

Rossi was arrested in December 2021 in Glasgow, where he had fled to from Bristol, again trying to avoid police. Officers acting on an international arrest warrant discovered him suffering from Covid at the city's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

An Interpol red notice for him led nurses and doctors to suspect his true identity and alerted the authorities, who fingerprinted him, noted his tattoos and determined that he was, in fact, Alahverdian. After losing an appeal on December 14, it is believed he left for the US on a private flight from Edinburgh Airport on January 4.

Rossi's extradition order was signed last month

Former Utah county attorney, David O Leavitt, welcomed the completed extradition. He told BBC: "Today marks a pivotal moment in the pursuit of justice, as the responsibility shifts to Utah County. This would not have happened without the amazing co-operation from law enforcement across the world.

"I'm very grateful for the co-operation we've received from the Scottish authorities. This wouldn't have happened without them." Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian said during a hearing: "The evidence supporting that the appellant is Nicholas Rossi was overwhelming.

"He did not, nor does he now, produce anything which would suggest to the contrary." She added: "The conspiracy theories which he tendered in explanation were properly rejected. The sheriff carefully considered the submissions made on the appellant's behalf as to the potential barriers to his extradition."

She also debased the claims that he was suffering from mental illness or that he was too physically unwell for extradition — witnesses testified to the contrary, including several experts and personnel in HMP Edinburgh, where he was being held as the hearings took place.

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